The US edition of the new biography of Evelyn Waugh by Philip Eade has been previewed in the current issue of Kirkus Reviews. This publication is based on advance galley proofs, and is intended for use by those in the book trade and libraries. The unsigned review notes that, although several earlier biographies exist, a case for the new one is made by publication in conjunction with the 50th annivesary of Waugh’s death and the use of newly available materials. It continues:
Though he is better known in England than in the United States, two of his novels—Brideshead Revisited, which he called his “magnum opus,” and The Loved One, which he described as a “study of the Anglo-American cultural impasse with the mortuary as a jolly setting”—have earned him a readership in America… The book is brimming with society-page stuff: tales of dalliances and social dinners; quotes commenting on who’s smitten with whom; who is/isn’t a homosexual; etc.—all of which grows tedious eventually. The author admits Waugh was probably something of a snob, but charges of his being a bully may be a stretch. Eade offers up a softer portrait of Waugh that might help bring him some new readers, which he deserves.
The US publication date is set for 11 October.
UPDATE (6 August 2016): Another preview of the US edition of the new Waugh biography appears in the 25 July issue of Publishers Weekly. This describes the book as a:
well-crafted, slightly frothy portrait of the complex, difficult literary icon Evelyn Waugh …Eade focuses on Waugh’s colorful personal life and exploits with the “smart set” of his time. The cameo appearance of dozens of glamorous figures throughout the book approaches literary name-dropping….Despite the book’s crowded canvas, its narrative trajectory is straightforward… Waugh’s cruel streak, evident all his life, made him many enemies. With appreciation and empathy, Eade also points out Waugh’s many kindnesses, and his intense loyalty to the Catholic Church after converting. Eade’s treatment reveals a man of astonishing awareness of his gifts and failings, great sincerity, and wit.
Thanks to David Lull for providing a link to this preview.